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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1285; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101285

Influence of Afforestation on the Species Diversity of the Soil Seed Bank and Understory Vegetation in the Hill-Gullied Loess Plateau, China

1
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS & MWR, Yangling 712100, China
2
School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119, China
3
College of Water Conservancy, Shenyang Agriculture University, Shenyang 110866, China
4
College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Liaoning Technical University, Fuxin 123000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 September 2017 / Revised: 19 October 2017 / Accepted: 22 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
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Abstract

The Chinese Loess Plateau region has long been suffering from serious soil erosion. Thus, large-scale afforestation has continued during the past decades in order to control soil erosion. Afforestation can dramatically alter nutrient cycles, affect soil-carbon storage, and change hydrology. However, it is unknown how afforestation influences species diversity of the soil seed bank and understory vegetation compared with spontaneous restoration of abandoned land. Forest land with trees planted 30 years ago, abandoned slope land restored spontaneously for 30 years, and the corresponding slopes with remnant natural vegetation were selected as sampling sites. The species richness both in the soil seed bank and vegetation was significantly higher on the afforested slope compared to the spontaneously restored abandoned land. The species similarity between the afforested slope and the remnant slope land was high both in the soil seed bank and standing vegetation compared to the abandoned land. The soil seed bank density varied from 1778 ± 187 to 3896 ± 221 seeds/m2, and more than half of it was constituted by annual and biennial species, with no significant difference among sampling habitats. However, the afforested slope had higher seed density of grass and shrub/subshrubs compared to the abandoned slope. The present study indicates that in the study region, characterized by serious soil erosion, afforestation can better facilitate vegetation succession compared to spontaneously restoration of abandoned slope land. View Full-Text
Keywords: afforestation; soil erosion; species diversity; soil seed bank; abandoned land afforestation; soil erosion; species diversity; soil seed bank; abandoned land
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Wang, N.; Jiao, J.; Jia, Y.; Wang, D. Influence of Afforestation on the Species Diversity of the Soil Seed Bank and Understory Vegetation in the Hill-Gullied Loess Plateau, China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1285.

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